Donald Trump’s political appointees blocked career Justice Department prosecutors from taking a critical step in their investigation of Rudy Giuliani’s dealings with Ukrainian officials and oligarchs who helped him attempt to dig up dirt on Joe Biden last year.
According to the New York Times, Manhattan prosecutors sought to obtain search warrants for Giuliani’s records of his contacts with Ukrainians but senior Justice Department officials who were appointed by Trump repeatedly denied those requests. The result is that the investigation, which had been gaining momentum last year, was slowed to a halt during the last few months of Trump’s presidency. During that that period Giuliani was leading Trump’s baseless and ultimately unsuccessful challenges to the results of the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election.
The Justice Department has a policy of not engaging in potentially explosive political actions in investigations within 60 days of an election. Manhattan-based prosecutors had initially raised the idea of issuing a subpoena for Giuliani’s Ukraine records in the summer of 2020, well before the cutoff period, but that request was denied. Those career prosecutors also tried to reignite the investigation after the election, but again were denied by Trump’s political appointees.
The Times reports that those career officials felt that there was sufficient reason to believe that a search would turn up evidence of crimes by Giuliani, which is the legal standard that must be met for authorities to obtain a search warrant. Trump’s appointees deferred taking action, opting to leave a decision on a search warrant to the Biden administration. It’s unknown if that investigation has been revived and a warrant issued since Biden took office.